Are We Blundering?

In a piece at Geoff LaMear expresses a view that is contrary to the prevailing wisdom. According to him sending Patriot missiles to Ukraine is an “expensive blunder:”:

The truth is Patriot systems are as likely to stop the drone threat as a water balloon is to stop a forest fire. The mismatch is too great. And Washington’s persistence despite that reality is a blunder that will prove costly.

Air defenses rely on radars that scan for threats in a specific area. For Patriot systems, these areas are small and meant to be pinpoint locations like a military base or power plant. A single Patriot system would not alter the inherent vulnerability that Ukraine experiences in the air, given its vast front of fighting against Russian troops. It might protect a few nodes that Kyiv prizes, but Russian air attacks can counter these missile systems.

He has an additional criticism:

Ukraine is also not equipped to use Patriots. American personnel spend months studying what is a complex and highly technical system. That time is dedicated by military planners despite U.S. troops typically facing no language barrier in doctrinal or technical documents, having access to experts with years of experience, and support from the contractors who design the systems.

Ukraine will still need extensive support to operate and maintain the equipment even after training. To employ Patriots effectively would require embedding U.S. personnel with these missile batteries. Doing so risks U.S. casualties and a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation that could easily escalate.

and here’s his peroration:

The knee-jerk dosomethingism in Washington doesn’t help. It may produce warm and fuzzy feelings, but this doesn’t translate into a peace that will bring a return to normalcy for Ukraine’s people. What’s more important, the pretense of moral superiority or an end to the carnage?

Washington absolutists may say that principle trumps pragmatism. But how many thousands will have to die before the inevitable negotiations bring about the war’s end? Tactically questionable weapon shipments won’t change the outcome. They may delay it. And ordinary Ukrainians and Russians, oftentimes conscripted into a war not of their choosing, will continue to bleed until that reality is acknowledged.

Sadly, I think that ensuring that Russia loses the war resoundingly has overwhelmed any desire to “end the carnage”.

I don’t honestly know whether sending Patriots to Ukraine is right, wrong, or irrelevant. I have to take the word of those with more knowledge than I. While the expense is certainly a consideration, I’m actually more worried about the time and lives that will be used in learning that it’s the wrong use for that weapons system. And unlike many Americans, I’m a lot more interested in seeing that Russia doesn’t win outright than in ensuring that they lose.

12 comments… add one
  • Jan Link

    ” The knee-jerk dosomethingism in Washington doesn’t help. It may produce warm and fuzzy feelings, but this doesn’t translate into a peace that will bring a return to normalcy for Ukraine’s people. What’s more important, the pretense of moral superiority or an end to the carnage?”

    That was the most prescient part of the piece excerpted. I can’t help but, looking back at our wars with Viet Nam, Iraq and the ME, and now our blurred Ukraine involvement, see a pattern of US behavior that is very misguided and even destructive – especially for those actively involved in battle on the ground. High numbers of civilian/military deaths have already occurred because of this conflict. Furthermore, the U.S. is said to be depleting our own armaments – a decision that could be costly should China become aggressive towards Taiwan. Oil and natural gas supplies are also being negatively impacted.

    The only people who seem to be making gains are congressional hawks, the overzealous Biden Administration, Zelensky, and inadvertently the Ukraine Oligarchs whose wealth remains untapped. People who really care about the Ukrainians well being bypass the military and government orthodoxy, giving their assistance to organizations directly helping the people. One of my son’s best friends is over in Ukraine now, delivering goods and supplies, putting his own life on the line, because of his genuine empathy for this war-ravaged country.

  • Drew Link

    Our involvement in Ukraine is based upon arms production opportunities and covering for Biden’s shady relationship.

    I appreciate all the erudite commentary…………but seriously?

  • bob sykes Link

    Russia will not lose this war. It will win it decisively and impose peace conditions. Whether any part of Ukraine remains independent is an open question. Poland is angling to get a large chunk of western Ukraine. Romania and Hungary want some territory back, too.

    As to the Patriots, Houthi drones repeatedly embarrassed the American crews manning the batteries in Saudi Arabia. The Patriots are a point defense weapon (as pointed out) intended to destroy incoming aircraft and ballistic missiles. Drone and cruise missiles are not on its menu.

    If Patriots are sent to Ukraine they will be manned by American troops. This would not be an innovation. American special forces have been in the Donbas fighting the separatists since the 2014 coup d’état, and possibly earlier. There are a number of Polish, American, British and other NATO soldiers serving with the Ukrainian army now. If Poland does transfer tanks to Ukraine, they will send the tank crews, too.

    Anyone with half a brain wants this war to end soon, before it goes nuclear. Unfortunately, our Deep State intends to push the war all the way to the nuclear stage, believing the Russians will back down. Lately, a number of senior Russian officials have warned that Russia is prepared to go nuclear, and to use strategic weapons, not merely tactical nukes (whatever they might be).

  • steve Link

    The people in Ukraine are the ones doing the fighting and who want to fight rather than live as subjects of Russia. Its a shame that conservatives, who used to talk about things like values, fail to understand the willingness of people to fight to preserve their sovereignty.

    “What’s more important, the pretense of moral superiority or an end to the carnage?””

    That’s a choice we have always had throughout history. You can often avoid carnage just by surrendering when a tyrant invades. Of course the tyrant imposes their own kind of carnage once they impose their will on the invaded country.

    Are you really pretending to be morally superior when you choose to fight rather than surrender to an invader?


  • Andy Link

    Mr. LaMear doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.

    In the first place, as I continue to beat this horse, this war is burning through equipment and ammo. When it comes to air defense, Ukraine has very capable systems and they would not need something like Patriot except for two things:
    – The batteries they have are suffering attrition and they have no ready replacements.
    – They are running out of missiles and they have no replacements.

    And this is what Russia is specifically trying to do with their tactics of attrition. Attacking key infrastructure, forcing Ukraine to expend resources and ammunition it doesn’t have.

    For the same reason Ukraine switched from Russian-standard artillery and shells to NATO, Ukraine will need switch from Russian air defense systems to NATO systems, and that will likely be Patriot.

    Secondly, Patriot is not a system that can or is intended to counter all air threats. MANPADS and tactical air defense systems are still very important, and Ukraine is getting replacements for those from other countries. Patriot excels at defending against aircraft, cruise missiles, and, depending on the variant, short-range ballistic missiles. It’s not meant to counter small tactical drones; that’s what other systems are for.

    Yes, Patriot is complicated to operate and takes a lot of training. There is also the problem of coordinating the IFF systems to ensure there is minimal fratricide (ie. shooting down Ukrainians). That is all achievable, it just takes time.

    Finally, what LaMear doesn’t discuss is what happens when Ukraine’s existing air defenses are attrited and used up with no replacement – it would give Russia air superiority at med-high altitude, which would be a huge advantage. Is that likely to result in the “peace that will bring a return to normalcy for Ukraine’s people” that he claims to want? Nope, it won’t

  • Jan Link

    Steve keeps brokering for Ukraine, planting our engagement there as being at the top of our “to do” list, prioritizing our money, man power and other resources “over there,” rather than “over here” at our own chaotic and dangerous southern border. A general rule, though, is by weakening yourself you will be of little use to others.

    IMO, the demands made by congressional hawks and Biden, on behalf of a non-allied country who has had many questionable monetary ties to the Biden Family, is foolish. Our help so far has only accelerated the Ukrainian carnage, poked the Russian hornet’s nest that could end up with a catastrophic ending. Putin is in this conflict to win, not lose ground. Russian experts have said he is looking to expand his military significantly, anticipating a WWIII confrontation with America. Our leaders are merely aiding and abetting Putin’s prophecy.

  • Jan Link

    The above link lines up as a cautionary note regarding overreaching our involvement in Ukraine.

  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Maybe the concerns about attrition warfare are overblown with the news the US is delivering 50 Abrams tanks and Germany and Europe is sending a significant proportion of their tanks.

    At this rate of escalation, Ukraine will have either smashed Russia militarily (if tanks won’t work, using the air force is next) or Russia will have escalated to the “strategic level” far before US/NATO runs out of artiliery, etc, etc.

  • Andy Link

    50 tanks isn’t a lot, and it looks like the timeline is a year or two. In short, promising to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine was mostly a political move to appease the Germans.

  • Andy Link
  • We’ll see. Saying you’re going to do something and actually accomplishing it are two different things.

  • Andy Link

    I agree with your skepticism of the promise, but I bring it up to highlight the sustainment and supply issues I’ve been harping on for a long time now.

Leave a Comment